Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow (review copy)
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre/Themes: Mayan Mythology, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Jazz Age
Blurb from Goodreads
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but it’s passing Casiopea Tun by. She’s too busy scrubbing floors in her wealthy grandfather’s house to do anything more than dream of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she could call her own.
This dream is impossible, distant as the stars – until the day Casiopea opens a curious chest in her grandfather’s room and accidentally frees an ancient Mayan god of death. He offers her a deal: if Casiopea helps him recover his throne from his treacherous brother, he will grant her whatever she desires. Success will make her every dream come true, but failure will see her lost, for ever.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed only with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City and deep into the darkness of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld.
I was so excited when I heard about this book and so was beyond thrilled when I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC from NetGalley and WOW DID THIS BOOK NOT DISAPPOINT!!!
I loved it.
Absolutely loved it.
This book to me is the perfect blend of fantasy, mythology and historical fiction. It’s filled with Mayan folklore that truly came alive for me. I must confess I know nothing about Mayan mythology but this book has been a wonderful starting point for me. Apparently it is inspired by the Popol Vuh which is a text that recounts the mythology and history of the Kʼicheʼ people, one of the Maya peoples, and ahhhh I just need to know more!!!!
The story focuses on the Mayan gods of death, Hun-Kamé and Vucub-Kamé, and their fight for control of their underworld, Xibalba. And into the story of course comes unsuspecting humans, brilliant Casiopea and her (douchebag!) cousin Martín.
Casiopea is a brilliant character. Her upbringing was one of sadness and mistreatment (especially at the hands of her cold-hearted grandfather and cousin Martín) but I liked how it didn’t quell her inner feisty spirit. I basically just loved her sassiness and how she very much owned who she was as a person. And her journey with Hun-Kamé was absolutely everything I love about traditional quests and adventures. I thought that the standoffish godlike-persona of Hun-Kamé really juxtaposed nicely with Casiopea’s warmth and therefore, really enjoyed how their relationship evolved showing us how such disparate characters could eventually find their commonality.
I also loved getting some of the story given to us from Martín’s PoV. I liked how seeing his side of events helped to frame him as a more complex character than purely someone who was unkind to his poorer relative.
What was also really engaging was how the author really made the world her characters were inhabiting come alive for the reader. I very much enjoyed all the touches of the Jazz age that peppered the real world narrative along with some very vivid descriptions of the Mayan Underworld.
At times this book had an almost Young Adult quality to it, and I mean that in a good way, as the story was very accessible and immediately engaging but it’s definitely an adult novel due to some slightly squeamish moments for those of us with weak stomachs towards the end of the book.
This was a book that I 100% loved and I can’t wait to read more from the author.
Highly recommended to fans of books that retell mythologies
An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Quercus/Jo Fletcher Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Publishing July 23rd, 2019